Minister in hot seat over firm’s Jersey links

Minister in hot seat over firm’s Jersey links
Schneider-Ammann: faces new controversy. Photo: Federal chancellery
Swiss Economy MInister Johann Schneider-Ammann is in the political hot seat over revelations that his family company may have used a subsidiary in the Channel Islands to dodge taxes before he joined the government.

Earlier this week the Rundschau public affairs programme on SRF, the German-language state TV, reported that the Ammann Group managed assets of 264 million francs through a company called Jerfin in Jersey between 1996 and 2009.

The company was dissolved and the money was transferred to Switzerland before Ammmann was elected to the federal cabinet in 2010 as a member of the centre-right Liberal party.

Was there any financial impropriety involved?

Schneider-Ammann and Ammann, a company which makes ashphalt and concrete mixing plants, as well as paving and compaction machines, maintain that they acted according to the law and in complete transparency.

But tax authorities in Bern have opened an investigation to ensure that everything in fact was done legally.

“We have indications according to which something maybe didn’t work right,” Bruno Knüsel, head of Bern’s tax administration told Rundschau.

If it turns out that Jerfin was managed from Switzerland, it should have paid Swiss taxes, one tax expert is quoted as saying by Le Temps newspaper.

The trouble for Schneider-Ammann, 61, comes in the same week that a scandal emerged in the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco), a department under his ministry.

The Tages-Anzeiger newspaper reported that the head of Seco received personal benefits in return for signing contracts worth millions of francs to an IT provider for inflated prices.

Schneider-Ammann has ordered an administrative investigation and asked an outside expert to look into the case.

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